Asian Conversations at St. Olaf College

Studying Chinese or Japanese language?

Curious about how ideas and people “journey” across Asia?  Interested in learning with the same classmates for more than one semester?  Eager to journey to China and Japan with those classmates during Interim?  If you say “yes” to these questions, then:

We want you to join Asian Conversations!

Asian Conversations offers you a dynamic cultural exploration that begins with two semesters of Chinese or Japanese language study during your first year on campus.  During sophomore year, you continue your language study, while taking three linked courses organized around the theme of “Journeys Through Asia.”  Readings include historic and contemporary narratives from Asian travelers, pilgrims, migrants, great writers, and political leaders.  You explore connections across Asia from diverse perspectives in the humanities and social sciences, complemented with language skills in Chinese or Japanese.  In January, you travel to China and Japan for an experiential interim through ethnographic observations, while practicing your language skills.  Interim serves as a bridge between grounding in traditional culture, introduced in the fall, and the reworking of tradition during the modern era, which we cover in the spring course.

Two professors lead each of the three sequenced courses taught in English – AS210, 215, and 220.  All courses challenge you to think across traditional disciplines from history to literature to the social sciences, across national borders and languages, and across time.  In the fall and spring, we alternate class sessions: sometimes all students and both professors are in the room, sometimes we have smaller conversations led by one professor at a time.  During the January interim class, the entire group travels together to China for the first week, and ends with a final week together in Japan.  In between, you stay in the country of your language study for two more weeks, each taught by one of the professors.

Asian Conversations invites you to embed your language study in a broader encounter with cultural traditions old and new.

When and how do I apply?

You apply for Asian Conversations in the spring of your first year at St. Oaf.  You should sign up for Chinese or Japanese language during your first and second semesters at the College.  If you took either language during high school, you can take a placement exam first.  During your sophomore year, you continue with language study, while taking the three Asian Conversations courses.  When you complete the sequence, you will earn six General Education credits:  ALS-A, ALS-L, HBS, MCG, ORC and WRI.

Asian Conversations Informational Dinner for prospective students on Tuesday, February 25, from 5:00-7:00 p.m. in BC Sun Room

Application deadline for 2014-2015 academic year is MONDAY, March 3, 2014.

Contact Asian Conversations Director: Kathy Tegtmeyer Pak at
or (507)-786-3655.